Along with the rise of Islamic Jihad in the world, we are witnessing an increase in ecclesiastical terrorism. There are those Christians who see it as their calling to sabotage the support bases of others, to launch sneak attacks, ecclesiastical Pearl Harbours, to destroy missionary towers, assassinate characters, hijack ministries and blow up bridges of relationships. These ecclesiastical terrorists seek to intimidate and to sow seeds of fear and doubt.
There are those who have a ministry of criticism and a gift of discouragement. All too many dedicated Christian workers have fallen victim to ecclesiastical bullies and those with a ministry of backstabbing. Pride, jealousy and covetousness, dysfunctional churches and dysfunctional members collectively present a serious threat to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in our generation.
There is a desperate need to expose the increasing threat of pathological antagonists and abusive churches. In order to encourage and empower those involved in missions and ministry who are being targeted and undermined, this book attempts to both expose the problem and to provide practical and Biblical solutions. For this purpose the light of Scripture and experience is shone on the dark dealings of those relentless critics who prefer to shoot from the shadows.
"Look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart." Psalm 11:2
The goal of this book is to be constructive, to encourage those under attack, to provide a tool with which to expose the tactics and strategies of character assassins, and to enable ministers and missionaries to educate their elders and deacons as to the reality of this problem and the Biblical solutions.
As Dr. Guy Greenfield has observed in his book "The Wounded Minister - Healing From and Preventing Personal Attacks", every church and ministry has to deal with personality conflicts and intermittent discord. That is normal. However, what we are facing is the "growing phenomenon", "major problem approaching crisis proportions" of "pathological antagonists", and their allies and sympathisers, who launch systematic and sustained attacks on the leaders of a church or ministry.
G. Lloyd-Rediger describes these antagonists as "clergy killers", who have as their one major objective to abuse or hurt the ministers to the degree that they will leave the ministry. Rediger notes that this abuse is "increasing in epidemic proportions…it is a phenomenon that is verified by both research and experience."
However, because this phenomenon is little understood and seldom recognised, these genuine candidates for church discipline generally escape Biblical accountability and continue to cause divisions - to their own spiritual detriment and to the harm of others. The indecisiveness and procrastination of many church leaders, even when such trouble makers are recognised, makes resolution difficult. However, while many church leaders will shrink from confronting ecclesiastical tyrants, terrorists and traitors, some can be manipulated and bullied into condemning various dedicated and effective servants of God.
Most church members would be shocked to learn how pathological antagonists can manufacture evidence and presumption of guilt, organise trials in abstentia, when no defense is allowed and no appeal is possible, and arrange a guilty verdict as a foregone conclusion.
The ex-Rhodesian Prime Minister, Mr. Ian Smith, in his book The Great Betrayal states: "We were never beaten by our enemies - we were betrayed by our friends." This has been the sad experience of all too many ministers and missionaries as well.
"Dr. Peter Hammond has written a challenging new book entitled, Character Assassins: Dealing With Ecclesiastical Tyrants and Terrorists. Those who have experienced such character assassinations will be greatly helped by this book and the many anecdotal stories that it relates. It is a topic rarely written on and one that I am sure will prove a blessing in the lives of many who are wounded ministers or missionaries."
D. James Kennedy, Ph.D., Senior Minister, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
"I am grateful such a book now exists. I have observed all too much in the way of slander of godly men and abusive churches which operate by tyrannical control. And I am aware of far too many botched church discipline cases where the elders proceeded wrongly without following Matthew 18 principles, or where there was too great a fear of confrontation and the people with the factual information about sinful behaviour refused to go public, but rather wanted to remain an ‘anonymous witness’, which of course fly’s in the face of Matt. 18. May God use this book to shake fearful church people into proper courage, and also help define ecclesiastical tyranny for those being tyrannized."
Dr. Jay Grimstead, Director, Coalition on Revival
"Character Assassins are a well-written, much-needed book, which every pastor and ministry leader will want to have. It shines the light of Scripture and experience on the dark dealings of those who shoot from the shadows to destroy the reputations of those in the frontlines of ministry. Almost everyone in any kind of leadership today has experienced the kind of back-stabbing exposed in this book. But, until now, there has been very little in print to give hope, Biblical insights and practical help to those under fire.
"Furthermore, Dr. Peter Hammond’s track record of ministry, leadership and servant hood give him a unique perspective on this fascinating topic."
Joseph Farah, Founder, WorldNetDaily.com
"Bravo! Character Assassins are a timely and important book by Peter Hammond. It exposes the pathological antagonists who are out to destroy God’s anointed, reveals the motivations behind the accuser of the brethren and sets forth in great detail how to discover the truth. Character Assassins are must reading. I recommend it for every believing Christian."
Dr. Ted Baehr, MOVIEGUIDE
"This is a desperately needed book emerging at a critical time when courageous and committed clergy as well as other leaders, not only in South Africa but round the world, are finding themselves alienated, reviled, persecuted and despised by the very institutions and so called leadership which should be encouraging, supporting and championing their efforts to bring God’s message of love, values and compassion to people of all walks and persuasions. It vindicates those who have suspected for some time that churches and other institutions, in many instances but by no means all, have become nothing less than instruments of diabolical social control covertly and overtly managed by malign and sinister vested interests with deviant aspirations and distorted ambitions.
"Readers who study this text will immediately realise that they do not walk alone but share a common challenge. They can take strength from the fact that this problem has reached epidemic proportions on a global platform and now for the first time the seed is being sown to ensure a universal awareness of what is happening, and more importantly, how to address the challenge based on defining common values, determination and strength of character underpinned by the foundational bedrock of a firm faith in our Lord and His teachings. Peter Hammond and his team have performed a vital service which does not stop here but sets the scene for further work in future by creating a universal awareness of the problems, threats and challenges and how to cope with them. The next step is turning the tide."
Douglas McClure, Retired Civil Servant and Company Director, South Africa
"It is my privilege and honour to highly recommend this desperately needed book, Character Assassins, to all Christians who are serious with God and want to remain standing where many are falling.
"This book not only exposes our flaws, mistakes and sins as Christians who criticize, back-stab, sabotage, lie and assassinate the characters of other servants of God and their ministries, but it also encourages and empowers those who are under attack and are not sure what to do, or are criticized unfairly and are not sure how to react.
"There are many Christian leaders who have failed and given up serving the Lord because they did not know what to do in times of trouble, persecution, misunderstanding, unfair criticism and betrayal by brothers who were supposed to be on the same team as they were. Their reaction would have been to ‘stand and persevere’ if they read a book like this during their dark days.
"My prayer is that this book will be read by as many Christian leaders as possible, and that they will be willing to change as flaws in their characters are exposed. It is true that ’a person’s character is accurately measured by their reaction to unfairness and bad treatment.’ We need to die to self as Christians so that Christ may live His life in us and through us. May we ask the Lord to change us more into His likeness so that our reaction to unfairness or bad treatment will reveal a true Christ-like character? To be like Jesus is what we should ask of God more than anything else."
Dr. Kenneth Meshoe, MP, President, African Christian Democratic Party
"Character Assassins address a great need in the church of Jesus Christ. It not only helps identify a number of problem areas that threaten the mission of the church, but lays out the Biblical procedures for providing a fair trial -- both for those charged, as well as those bringing charges. A copy of this book needs to be in the library of every church leader."
Larry Pratt, ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America and Executive Director of Gun Owners of America.
"As a Member of Parliament and past Minister of State, in our profession it is often said that public representatives fear the people sitting behind them more than those sitting opposite. In other words they fear their colleagues more than their opponents.
"As a senior business executive and past Chairman of national and international companies I know that the most destructive and paralysing force can be inter-departmental animosities, dressed up as competition.
"Stalin said that the more he got to know his friends, the more he liked his dogs!
"All who have ever tried to serve, particularly in public life, will have felt the dead and paralyzing hand of calumniation. But of course we know that falsely accusing people is a sin.
"One would have liked to believe that the church at least was a sanctuary free of these influences. And of course it can’t be because the Church is in the front line of the world mega struggle of values.
"Clearly there are those who wish to play against the man and not the ball and will sink to anything to bring down another - even if it does weaken the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
"Churchill said ’a problem well defined is a problem half solved’. Thus the awareness and insight of three effective and experienced missionary practitioners at the front line of that struggle do us a great service in identifying and helping us to understand and thus solve the problem.
"This book is both a defence and an initiative to not only quell the problems but to lead us on how to nip them in the bud before the paralysing effect grows.
"As the old saying goes ’accentuate the positive!’
"This book is a must read for every church leader, evangelical Christian and all those who choose to serve the Lord effectively.
The Honourable Kent Durr, MP (ACDP), Parliamentarian; Cabinet Minister; Ambassador, High Commissioner and Chairman of Companies worldwide.
"This book Character Assassins will be of great comfort to ministers, pastors, and missionaries who find themselves criticised, attacked, and confounded in their ministry. It will also help those inward-looking congregations which tolerate dissension instead of unitedly advancing the Great Commission. It will encourage church members to pray more fervently for their ministers, and it will teach church courts to deal with conflict resolution according to the Book.
"This publication will teach you that you are not alone, that to suffer antagonism is part of the ministry. It will help you to recognise, understand, and cope with the stresses and strains which are brought into the Church by members and leaders who are scarred by an undisciplined, broken, and lawless world.
"Thank God for this book. It exposes the true nature of antagonism and shows that, with the help of the Lord, the Christian can deal wisely and victoriously with character assassins and ecclesiastical tyrants and terrorists."
Dorothea Scarborough, Director, Gospel Defence League;
Chairman, Christian Action Network
"This book is a great gift to the church. Character Assassins expose the warfare between the flesh and the spirit, between Esau and Jacob. The ’pathological antagonists’ which Dr. Hammond and Dr. Abshire refer to are usually those who have hardened their heart against God’s voice and as a result find themselves enemies of His work. Sadly, these destroyers sincerely believe, like Saul of Tarsus, that what they are doing is a service to God. Some go so far as to grudgingly admit that the ministry that they are ’exposing’ does bear good fruit but the tree is definitely bad. Confusion reigns when Diabolus gets a foothold. Their condition reaches the point where no amount of speaking will convince them. Stephen gave a full Biblical explanation to his detractors but they ’stopped their ears’ and martyred him despite all that they heard and the evidence of the Lord’s presence shining upon his face.
"Only the grace of God will convince character assassins and set them on the right path. May the Lord show them mercy and grant them repentance lest they experience God’s displeasure upon them and their offspring.
"Finally, this book necessitates integrity in the pulpit and Christian leadership."
Rev. Erlo Stegen, Director, KwaSizabantu Mission, KwaZulu Natal
"If you’ve experienced the pain, anguish and shock of treachery against your person as a minister or lay-leader then you’re not alone. Pastor trashing and character assassination is a heart-arresting phenomena in the modern Church. It is as real today as Judas was in Christ’s day, and it is everywhere in the Church. That’s why Peter Hammond’s and Brian Abshire’s Character Assassins: Dealing With Ecclesiastical Tyrants And Terrorists is a must read. This book is not only relevant but vital for teaching godly pastors and lay people how to deal with this growing problem."
Rev. Tristan Emmanuel, author of Christophobia: The Real Reason Behind Hate Crime Legislation, Canada
"Character Assassins are a great masterpiece. This book will stand the test of time. It will protect those who are not wounded, heal and restore those already wounded and help those who who are in the business of destroying others. I wish this book was written 20 years ago! This book is a cure for many ills in the body of Christ. I pray that every leader and every Bible College, Institution, Seminar and Theological School will obtain this book. If I had a million dollars I would give it to Frontline Fellowship for the printing and shipping of this power packed book for all before it is eternally too late. I highly recommend this book."
Nedson W. Milanzi, Bible College Principle and Pastor, Malawi